cortana

Xbox and Cortana

As far as I know, my Xbox One has been turned off for a couple of months – standby maybe. Not even using it for it’s entertainment features: the handful of apps we use run better on our smart tv. We’d tried putting the comcast cable output thru the xbox -> the tv, which was ok for live tv, but completely broke down when faced with us trying to use our “DVR service”. I forget the details, but plugging the cable box directly into the TV and putting the Xbox on HDMI 2 made my life easier.

Sure, you can say “Xbox on” (or “Hey cortana, turn on” as it is now), and it turns on the xbox and the tv, but it doesn’t switch input sources, which means using the remote. It’s a trivial thing but it’s one that makes you not bother saying “Hey cortana, turn on” or reaching for and fiddling with the xbox controller and the tv remote – when I can just pick up the tv remote and press one button to power it on and a second button to start netflix/amazon/youtubve/etc. The TV wins at this game.

I wanted to know if the xbox had a fix for the source-switching yet, so I powered it up. I tried a few Cortana commands and a search, and all I could find was a low-voted xbox live thread complaining that the xbox can’t switch sources.

The Xbox1 UI has definitely changed a lot since I was actively using it, I couldn’t find jack. I was trying to find a way to play music or videos from my local network, and it turns out the Xbox doesn’t come with a media player by default – you have to install one. After that, it did OK playing the videos although I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting 4K.

But then I tried browsing the store. I tried to use Cortana to navigate but – well, forget that. “Do you want me to search for that?”, I reply “No” and cortana hears “now” and goes off and searches for “now”.

So I tried “Hey cortana, open cortana settings”, and up popped Khan Academy. Ugh!

Parts of the Cortana UI appear from time to time, but I couldn’t find a way to actually open the cortana ui with the notebook etc, so I couldn’t find any kind of way to do some voice training with Cortana. She’s *incredibly* unhelpful on the Xbox – but that’s maybe because I’m not using a headset.

During my attempts to browse the Apps and Games stores, I was continually frustrated by a lack of responsiveness in the UI. I eliminated it being the controller or it’s connection, it just seemed to be the UI being really sluggish.

Then there was the weird stuff like “Game Clips” for Elder Scrolls where it’s just a guy telling you to go into power settings and do something with power saving mode so your Xbox doesn’t explode. The video buffered every few seconds, despite the Xbox claiming it was getting 60Mb/s speeds. *Shrug*

So I went into Network Settings and noticed a “Bandwidth Statistics” option. I selected it.

Apparently: the Xbox can only take screenshots of games, you can’t take screenshots of things like … settings.

According to the Xbox, it has used 1.2GB of bandwidth in November and 13GB of bandwidth in October.

Which is odd, because, as I said, it’s been off for the last two months. Unlike other editions of Windows, there didn’t seem to be a way to get a break down of how the bandwidth was used…

I tried a few more experiments with Xborktana, until it started to annoy me, and decided that the UI is just as unhelpful and unpleasant.

Is there some secret plan by Microsoft to kill off the Xbox One by making its users give up?

 

(* I say “DVR service” in quotes because it doesn’t appear to be an actual DVR where you record a local copy of shows onto your device, they¬†appear to be on-demand streamed such that you can’t watch the content if your cable or the service has problems, it can take several seconds to respond to remote inputs like pause or rewind, etc)

Ghost of Clippy-past

Cortana has some great functionality crippled by an obsolete, out-of-date set of concerns generated, perhaps, by Windows 8.¬†Cortana wouldn’t be terribly out of place in 2010, but today?
clippy
A few days ago, Windows bamboozled me. A little pop-up appeared (grr, and stole focus): “If you tell me which teams you like – or don’t – I can tell you how they are doing”. My third thought(*1) was “who is this message from?!”
I’m just guessing it’s from Cortana, if so it seems like the Cortana team is for some reason resurrecting the worst of Clippy… (*2)
askmeany
Thanks to daily interaction with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Siri, etc, a modern user will interpret “Ask me anything” on a device differently than they would have in 2010.
disablesearchIf your plumber has to google every step of a basic repair job for you, you’re going to try another plumber next time. You don’t hire an accountant on the basis that they “know the URL for TurboTax”.
When someone says “ask me anything”, the response “you can look that up on the web” quickly becomes a contradiction of the original statement.
Eventually, it feels like they lied.
That’s the current presentation of Cortana.